Everyday, and I believe I can state this without fear of exception; we are inundated by reports of wicked deeds that exceed the wildest imaginations of this child of the 1960’s. Political corruptions bordering on treason, child and sexual abuses, slavery (the so-called “body-trafficking”), murders, sexual perversions and abortion have become the daily fare of America’s news-headlines. I fear 21st century believers are either becoming desensitized to gross wickedness or slaves to anger at a culture that defies God and mocks righteousness.
How should believers respond to a culture, people and government that is the antithesis of godliness and morality? Where do we focus our thoughts and hearts when we observe injustices that grieve our souls and stir us to anger and indignation? Psalm 37:1-11 addresses these questions and are perhaps David’s instructions to Solomon, his son and heir to the throne of Israel.
David states two admonitions concerning the wicked and their sin (37:1), and a reminder concerning the temporal nature of the path of sin.
The first admonition is, “Fret [angry; angered] not thyself because of evildoers [wicked]”; don’t allow anger with the wicked and their sin control your heart and thoughts. The second admonition, “neither be thou envious [jealous; provoked to jealousy] against the workers [makers] of iniquity [wickedness; unrighteousness]”; don’t be jealous when the wicked appear to prosper in their sin.
David reminds us the pleasures of sin is for a season (Hebrews 11:25) and the wicked “shall soon [speedily; quickly] be cut down [cut off] like the grass, and wither [fade away; sink down] as the green herb [tender grass].” Like grass mowed down in the spring and withers under the heat of summer, God’s wrath will consume the wicked and their sin.
Having admonished believers regarding their response to the wicked, David states four exhortations that instruct believers concerning their relationship with the LORD while they live in the midst of a world of sin and corruption. The first is, “Trust in the Lord” (37:3).
Psalm 37:3 – “Trust [secure; confident; bold] in the LORD, and do good [pleasing; pleasant]; so shalt thou dwell [abide; remain; continue] in the land, and verily [truth; faithfully; believe] thou shalt be fed [shepherd; lit. graze or pastured].
A fretting heart is indicative of a lack of faith and trust in the LORD. Fretting, worry and anxiety are joy robbers that will consume the soul. Following his instruction to people of faith, David challenges the believer to “do good”! Why? Good works are an expression of sincere faith. James writes, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18). David promises that God rewards faith and good works with His loving protection and provision—“dwell in the land [and] be fed” (37:3b).
David’s second exhortation to believers living in the midst of a wicked culture is found in verse 4.
Psalm 37:4 – “Delight [be soft; delicate; content] thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give [deliver; put; make] thee the desires [request; petitions] of thine heart [mind; feelings; understanding].”
“Delight”, be content and satisfied in the Lord. Enjoy His presence and feast on His Word; accept that His will and purpose for you is good (Romans 8:28-29). Notice the promise that comes with this exhortation…the Lord “shall give [deliver; put; make] thee the desires [request; petitions] of thine heart [mind; feelings; understanding]” (37:4b). Of course, when your delight is in the Lord, your heart’s desire is His will for you!
We read David’s third exhortation in verses 5-6.
Psalm 37:5-6 – “Commit [roll over; trust] thy way [journey; manner; road; course] unto the LORD; trust [secure; confident; bold] also in him; and he shall bring it to pass [make; wrought; commit; create]. 6 And he shall bring forth [bring out; finish; i.e. make to appear] thy righteousness [justice; prosperity; justice] as the light [illuminate; i.e. light of day], and thy judgment [manner; right; cause] as the noonday.
“Commit thy way” means to roll your burdens over on to the LORD. The “way” is your life’s path, road and future. Give your life to the LORD (Romans 12:1); “trust also in Him”; be bold and confident in the LORD and He will accomplish His plan and will in you. He will defend you from slander done in secret and vindicate your “righteousness” in the light of day (37:6).
The fourth exhortation is to rest… “Rest in the Lord” (37:7-11)
Psalm 37:7 – “Rest [be still; silent; stop] in the LORD, and wait patiently [lit. to be in anguish; tremble] for him: fret [angry; angered] not thyself because of him who prospereth [to succeed; to have success] in his way [journey; road; course], because of the man who bringeth [create; wrought; make] wicked devices [lewd; mischievous] to pass [create; wrought; make].”
The exhortation to “Rest in the Lord” means be still, silent and quiet. Silence is nearly lost in our day. We are surrounded by noise and activity; in fact, we seek and crave noise. This generation craves sound and too many of us are unwilling to be still long enough to pray and for God to speak to our hearts. Even our worship services are filled with noise and activity!
David returns to the admonition stated earlier in verse 1 when we read “fret [angry; angered] not thyself because of him who prospereth [to succeed; to have success] in his way [journey; road; course], because of the man who bringeth [create; wrought; make] wicked devices [lewd; mischievous] to pass [create; wrought; make]” (37:7). Don’t get angry and worked up when the wicked prosper. Don’t be overcome with anxiety when the wicked flaunt their sins.
Don’t let anger get hold of your soul, “Cease [let alone; fail; forsake; abandon] from anger [wrath], and forsake [leave off; relinquish; abandon] wrath [fury; anger; rage]: fret [angry; angered] not thyself in any wise [altogether] to do evil [hurt; afflict; break]” (37:8). Don’t allow the sins of others provoke you to sin!
David again reminds believers the life of the ungodly is short-lived, but the LORD rewards those who wait on and look to Him (37:9-10).
Psalm 37:9-10 – “For evildoers [wicked] shall be cut off [destroyed; consumed]: but those that wait [look for; expect; tarry] upon the LORD, they shall inherit [possess; occupy; take possession of] the earth [land]. 10 For yet a little while [brief matter of time], and the wicked [ungodly; guilty; lawbreaker] shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider [understand; perceive; regard] his place [home; country], and it shall not be.”
We close today’s devotional with a promise for the “meek” that is quoted by Christ in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:5).
Psalm 37:11 – But the meek [humble] shall inherit [possess; be heir; take possession] the earth [land; counotry]; and shall delight [be soft; delicate] themselves in the abundance [great] of peace [Shalom; completeness; happy].”
The world’s portrait of the “meek” is a picture of weakness; however, that is not the biblical definition of meekness. A “meek” believer is one who exercises self-control; he is by the grace of God and work of the Holy Spirit in his life, strong, but tender. He evidences strength under control. Of such a believer God promises He will give him an inheritance and abundant, lasting peace.
Matthew 5:5 – “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith